Summary Rebuttal of Viola’s Pagan Christianity

Ben Witherington has written a lengthy series of rebuttals to Frank Viola’s re-release of his 2002 book Pagan Christianity, this time in conjunction with George Barna and Tyndale House. 

I’m not joking when I said “lengthy”, the entire series of reviews actually comprises 14 blog posts (and covers more than just the book Pagan Christianity), but for those of you looking for a brief summary, I found an excellent paragraph by Witherington in the comments on his last post specific to PC. He does an excellent job of summarizing the basic problem with Viola’s views.

I do understand their [Viola,  Barna, Zens] frustration with some forms of the institutional church. What they do not seem to grasp is that what they are suggesting is certainly not any more Biblical in various regards. It becomes clearer and clearer that if 1 Corinthians wasn’t in our canon, they would have no basis for much of the way that they envision church happening. And they are prepared to ignore the evidence of Jesus teaching his disciples not only things like a particular prayer to repeat, or a particular model of leadership which not only allows for ministerial support, but in fact says quite specifically the minister is worthy of such support, they are guilty of over-exegeting their key texts so that it would appear that spontaneity is what God most wants in worship, and hierarchial leadership was forbidden. This certainly was not the apostle Paul’s view not least because he was the hierarchial leader who was telling them how to conduct their worship and fellowship gatherings– and he expected to be obeyed!